Now that Avatar: The Way of Water has grossed enough money to secure more sequels, writer and director James Cameron is tinkering with the script for Avatar 3 to change its main narrator from Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully to his son, Lo’ak (Britain Dalton).
Cameron credits audience feedback for the change, but regardless of the source, it’s a good decision. Jake Sully is a bland, boring character, which may contribute to the argument that Avatar never left any cultural footprint.
In an upcoming episode of Soundtracking with Edith Bowman, Cameron said he’s making further alterations so the film will tell its story from the perspective of the brash, second-born son of Jake and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).
“I’m going to take a moment when the dust clears to assess what people loved and what they responded to the most in this current release, and then I may go back and tinker a little bit [with Avatar 3],” Cameron told Bowman. “We may go back and do a couple of moments here and there. It won’t be radical, but maybe fine-tune it a bit to emphasize that which people are responding to.”
Cameron says audiences responded positively to the Sully tribe, especially Lo’ak, which inspired Cameron to make the character even more prominent than he was in The Way of Water.
“For example, Lo’ak really emerged as a character that people went with,” Cameron said. “Jake was our voiceover narrator for movie one and for movie two, and we have a different narrator for each of the subsequent films. We see it through the eyes of a different character. Movie three is through Lo’ak’s eyes.”
It doesn’t sound like Jake Sully is going away, but re-angling the narrator is a smart choice. Beyond moving on from Jake’s tired POV, Lo’ak has clearer flaws and motivations than his father. There’s a lot of promise in a character like Jake, but neither Avatar takes full advantage of the complexity of a father shaped by two worlds. However, audiences are apparently on board with Lo’ak.
Cameron’s sci-fi saga is locked in for three more movies, and there’s still plenty of Pandora to explore, as Cameron has confirmed elsewhere that the third movie will introduce another tribe of Na’vi whose culture is centered on fire. While they don’t yet have a name, Cameron has referred to them as “Ash People” in an interview with French outlet 20 Minutes. They’re antagonistic, and serve to show audiences that not all Na’vi are sympathetic heroes.
“I want to show the Na’vi from another angle because, so far, I have only shown their good sides,” Cameron said. “In the early films, there are very negative human examples and very positive Na’vi examples ... In Avatar 3, we will do the opposite.”
There’s still a long time to wait before Cameron’s Avatar saga continues, with Avatar 3 planned to open on December 20, 2024. All anyone can say for sure until then is that the narrator will change when the Ash People attack.
Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters.